Her Bad Mother

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Community Is Hard. Deal With It.

DISCLAIMER: The contents of this post may not be agreeable to every reader. Reading this post may cause disagreement, hurt feelings, discomfort, frustration, boredom and/or anal leakage. The Author will not be responsible for any feelings of dissatisfaction, unhappiness, existential malaise or gastro-intestinal distress that might be caused by the reading of this post. CAVEAT LECTOR.

Here's something that I've been feeling badly about: I have, in recent months, been a terrible blog citizen. I have only sporadically wandered out into this virtual neighborhood and checked in with friends and neighbors and kept up on the goings-on and the what-for and all the stuff that keeps this community humming. And I feel badly about that, because the neighborhood - you - have been so good to me, constantly dropping in for visits and bringing me pies and casseroles and bunches of flowers and keeping me surrounded with so much company that (oh shame to admit this) I haven't felt that I needed to go out. Which is wrong, and I'm determined to change that as I feel better. Because I love this community.

I love this community even though it sometimes undergoes paroxysms of indignation that sometimes render it just a teeny bit intolerant. You can be cute when you're indignant, oh internets, but when that indignation turns into sour judgment and hand-slapping, I get a little frustrated. Do we never learn? Why do we, as a community, find it so difficult to maintain our bearing when the road of social life gets bumpy? Why does every conflict, big or small, turn into a harbinger of our destruction or decline oh woe is us? Why do we get so fucking cranky?

Many of you know the current story, even though most of the posts and tweets and hand-to-ear whispers about it played coy with the details. I won't be coy. Here's the story: Sweetney twittered a comment about Fussypant's blog, criticizing the similarity between the name of the latter and the name of another longstanding and very popular blog - Fussy - that many of us know and love. Sweetney's tweet - which I did not see firsthand because, as I said, I've been hiding in my virtual kitchen, only peeking out from behind the curtains occasionally, which causes one to miss stuff - was on the snarky side. Sweetney - or, as I know her (this here would be a disclosure of bias) mah beeyootiful beeloved Tracey - is snarky. She is opinionated. She is straight-talkin', don't mince words, don't hold back, got-somethin'-to-say-gonna-say-it honest, and sometimes that honesty comes with a bite. (She is also an all-around awesome person with an honest-to-goodness good soul, and I say that as a person with very discerning taste in souls. Mmm, souls.) Because that's who she is. And that's how honesty is, more often than not, if we're really honest about it.

The judgment from the internets was, from what I've seen and heard from behind my kitchen window, swift and merciless: Tracey's Twitter comment was deemed bad. It was - everyone said - mean. It was nasty. She was mean and nasty. How dare she? How dare anyone say something like publicly? Who was she to criticize another blogger for emulating another? Who was she to call it copying? NOT NICE. BAD TRACEY.

Ironically, but not unexpectedly, much of the judgment passed on Tracey has gotten pretty mean itself. In the posts and comments that I skimmed last night, I saw statements to the effect that she was nasty and arrogant, that she's just another mean girl, that her own blog is derivative, that she's like totally stuck up because she's popular omg and it's totally obvious that she's like threatened because that other blogger is like totally nice and omg you can just tell that she's mean because she doesn't follow as many people on Twitter as follow her. Also, she's singlehandedly undermining the spirit of the community because, did you know? SHE WAS NOT NICE.

Which, okay already, I get it - feelings got hurt and nobody likes that - but people? CALM THE FUCK DOWN. Because you know what? The furor over Tracey's comment is, I think, doing way more damage to the community - and says way worse about the community - than the comment itself. Because the blanket condemnation of Tracey for tapping out 140 characters into a Twitter box - characters that spelled out something critical of another blogger - amounts to a kind of censoriousness that I find a bit discomfiting.

There are a few issues here, as I see it, in considering that fateful Tweet: 1) was the criticism expressed in the Tweet wrong or inappropriate? 2) was it wrong that the Tweet was quote-unquote not nice? and 3) do either of those two issues, if confirmed as wrong, warrant censoring criticism?

1) Was the criticism wrong or illegitimate? Queen of Spain's was the only post I saw that actually tackled that issue directly. The analogy made in her post on the subject was to hamburger joints: McDonald's enjoys robust business on its street corner, and then one day another burger joint, Burger King, opens up shop on the opposite corner. Mickey D's might not like it, but it shouldn't criticize BK for just doing what it already does, right? Criticizing BK for just wanting a piece of the action is, like, a hallmark of hegemonic market domination, no? And anyway, there's enough room in the market for everybody so don't be a hog, McD's, 'kay?

Which is fine and good as a point of comparison except that in this case: a) it was not BK, but Mr. Mickey Donald's Burger Emporium that opened up on the opposite corner, and b) it wasn't McDonald's that criticized Mr. Mickey Donald's name and enterprise - it was a hamburger-loving (veggie-burger loving, in this case) observer who, between bites of crispy fries, said, oh hai, whaddup with Mr. Mickey Donald's and its Rainbow Arches over there, yo? Isn't that, like, not cool? So it's not like this was some obvious turf issue, as has been charged - the observer in this case has nothing to gain from making the observation. She was just expressing an opinion. A trenchantly critical opinion that rubbed some people the wrong way, and that was undoubtedly hurtful to the proprietor of Mr. Mickey Donald's Burger Emporium (who I'm sure is a lovely person who just thought that the name she chose was awesome and maybe didn't look across the street), but still. It was critical opinion - and entirely fair comment, regardless of whether you agree with it or not, because no matter how you slice it, a blog called Fussypants that is written by a blogger who signs off as Fussy begs comparisons to the longer-standing blog called Fussy that is written by a blogger who is widely referred to as Fussy - critical opinion that, it seems to me, has been dismissed outright simply because it was plainly critical (and, also, that it was made by someone quote-unquote popular, which is an argument that I cannot for the life of me fathom. What does Sweetney's - or Fussy's - popularity have to do with the legitimacy of the critical observation? Seriously? Do we all need a lecture on Nietszche and herd morality? DON'T MAKE ME.)

Is the suggestion here that we should not, in this community, be critical of each other? Bullshit. A community that proscribes criticism within is not a community, it's a cult. Or is it that we should not be critical of each other in public or semi-public forums? Also bullshit. We're bloggers - everything that we say and do as bloggers occurs in media for which the lines of public and private are well and truly blurred - a proscription of 'public' criticism is a proscription of all criticism, full stop. And a community in which open criticism is proscribed has no foundation for robust discourse. It is, as I said, a cult.

So if we allow that we are, as members of a community, allowed to criticize each other, and that the critical observation under dispute here is not an outrageous one - indeed, that it is, arguably, entirely reasonable as an observation, regardless of what conclusions you draw from it or how contentious you view it - where's the problem?

2) The criticism was 'not nice.' Tracey's critical observation of the similarities between Fussypants and Fussy (and other bloggers; I'm not going to address those broader concerns here) was not articulated delicately. She was up front about the fact that she was criticizing someone, and not just gently pointing out a social faux pas or a small green piece of parsley between their teeth. She made it plain that the conclusion she drew from her observation of the similarity between Fussypants and Fussy.com was that such similarity was, in her books, not cool. And that plainspokenness was, unfortunately, hurtful to the blogger known as Fussypants.

Of course it was
. I would find it hurtful. I, in fact, find most criticism hurtful. I don't like have it suggested to me that something I've said or done might be wrong or inappropriate or in need of improvement. I want everyone to just love me and think that I'm awesome. Even the best intentioned criticism, the kind that is usually called 'constructive,' carries a bit of a sting. I is imperfect? Oh noes!

Criticism is almost always uncomfortable. Criticism, indeed, kinda sucks much of the time. Even when it turns out to be really helpful and promoting of growth yadda yadda blah, it's just not the funnest thing, you know? And of course, criticism that comes in plainspoken - or snarky - terms is the least funnest thing of all. But here's the thing: if we condemn anyone who utters criticism or makes critical observation - again, Tracey's supposed crime here was not name-calling or general nastiness, it was the making of an (albeit stinging) critical observation - we silence ourselves, to our detriment. Criticism keeps us, and our community, self-aware and self-reflective. Yeah, it stings, but that's why Socrates referred to himself - the greatest and most uncompromising of critics - as a gadfly: because no meaningful criticism fails to sting.

3) The problem, then: there's been almost no real critical commentary about the substance of Tracey's comment - almost everything that I've seen posted has condemned the fact of the observation-slash-criticism, and not addressed its substance. Everyone seems up in arms about the fact that there was a criticism, and that the criticism did or might have stung - the problem, apparently, being that Tracey dared say something that somebody might find hurtful, not that she was incorrect in her observation. Whether the argument implied in her comment was flawed or sound has, for the most, been left unaddressed, and this, I think, represents a missed opportunity - we could, instead of worrying about whether or not Tracey was too mean (a seventh-grade concern if I ever heard one) or whether her comment belies a vast Mean Girl conspiracy to preserve the mamasphere as the domain of some Trilateral Commission-like cabal of popular bloggers (which omg pleez), be discussing the ethics of propriety over blog names and blog personae and the relationship of this to the integrity of our community. Should we be trademarking our noms des blog plumes? Do we have any right to claim variations on names as our own? Do we have proprietary claims on innovations on style or content? How do we negotiate community when so much of our identities therein are associated with the brands - yes, I said brands - that we've (many of us) created? In the context of this community and these identities, am I Catherine, or am I HBM, and how would I feel if someone were going around calling themselves Her Bad Mommy or even Her Big Marmot and using the HBM acronym? Would I care? Would it matter?

The thing about these kinds of questions is, there's no way to discuss them meaningfully without stepping on toes and hurting feelings, at least a little bit, because discussing them meaningfully means discussing them critically, with reference to each other. Talking about the ownership of our identities and our spaces means drawing lines between you - me - us and asserting our independence from each other. Our is not a wholly cooperative social compact - we do not pursue and articulate a General Will - it's a network (a densely and intimately connected network) of individuals who work hard to make and define identities and spaces for themselves. We love and share and connect with each other - but we also define ourselves against each other, as distinct from each other. It's what makes our community so vibrant, so NOT mommybloggerdrone-like.

So why are we not asking these questions? Why, instead, do we all have our collective tits in a knot about whether or not someone in our midst was less than kind in raising a criticism about someone else? Are we not, as a community, so much bigger and better and more interesting than just are we nice enough? Was someone not nice enough? LYNCH THE PERSON WHO WAS NOT NICE ENOUGH. Seriously. By all means, let's endeavor to be kind, but let's not sacrifice inquiry and discourse and criticism at the altar of kindness.

If you honestly think that Tracey was wrong or misguided in her observations concerning Fussypant's blog, then address that issue. Argue the point - there are, after all, points to be made here. Say that you think it's perfectly fine for one blog to adopt a name that is very similar to another. Say that you think no writer or artist should have proprietary interest in variations on names or innovations in style or content. Say that you think that such things are contrary to community, and that community is key here. Those arguments are interesting, they really are. But fussing and bitching about whether Tracey was being mean in making a criticism to begin with? Not interesting. Not interesting at all. Demeaning, actually, to all us, because it suggests that we're not so much interested in critical debate as we are in making sure, above all else, that no-one's feelings get hurt.

We're a community. We live and love and learn in this space together. Feelings are going to get hurt, and they're going to get hurt all the time (if you don't believe me, do an archive tour of post-BlogHer posts for the last two years. Every year people write pages - pages - about feeling hurt and excluded and ignored.) That's community, always has been, from the beginning of recorded time: it's messy and ugly and rewarding and frustrating and thrilling and painful and fascinating and hard. That is, it is those things if we're doing it right. If we come to a collective stop - if we attack and persecute each other instead of engaging each other, if we question our very integrity as a community - every time someone's feelings get hurt, every time someone disagrees with someone else, every time things get a little uncomfortable, we're doomed.

(Go on - disagree with me. But don't call me a mean girl. I can be a pissy beeyatch, but I'm not a meanie, for reals. More to the point, neither is Tracey. Please to remember that.)

Comments to this post are now closed. It's been a productive discussion, but seeing as Sweetney and Fussypants have - YES - hugged it out and put it behind them, I think that it's time that we do the same. There'll be plenty of time for further debate about community, identity and the ethics of criticism at a later date, I'm sure ;)

Peace, ya'll.

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135 Comments:

Anonymous Leah said...

"How does this keep happening?" I ask myself every time this happens again. "Didn't we learn from the last time? Haven't we all grown up even just a little bit more?" I think the fact that we, as a community, keep rehashing the same things, keep regressing, is simply a side-effect of the community's constant growth. Although there are many, many of us who have been around for years, have seen this before, done that before, there are also many, many bloggers out there who haven't learned what we've learned, made the negotiations we've made, grown up as we have grown up. In short, they don't know that this isn't all about sunshine and teddy bears and a duty kiss everyone's ass in the name of Community.

When I started blogging in 2003, I had a very different idea of how I fit into the community and how that community operated and should (according to my own needs) operate, but five years later I have a much more sophisticated understanding of what goes on, and it's something that mostly came with time and experience. Not everyone has the same depth of understanding and history to get that this community is so much more than Being Nice and Playing Nice and Loving Everyone at the Expense of Critical Discourse and Sharing Ideas and Living Our Stories. And unfortunately, we'll never all get there at once, if at all, because the identity of "we" is constantly in flux.

Your entry today is a step in the right direction, though. You're educating the people who don't yet get it. You're asking the questions that shoud be asked, opening the discussions that need to be opened, and hopefully welcoming some of the people stuck in junior high into the adult world.

5:24 PM  
Anonymous Trillian said...

I think it's a gender issue. As a society, we do not encourage women to call other people to the carpet. Men are encouraged to do it all the time. I run into this in the corporate world. If a woman calls someone out harshly on a blatant error or incompetence, she's a bitch or mean. If a man does the same, he's a leader or authoritative. It's sad really. If she is correct in her criticism and righteous in her indignation, who cares if it was "mean." Can we please move off the middle school playground and on to more interesting conversation?

5:40 PM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Not again.

sigh.

I would like to think that if people are taking the time to stop by my blog and say something, even if it's somewhat critical, they mean well. Otherwise, why not go somewhere else? Because, like you said, it's about a community, and communities come with love, support and, yes, criticism, hopefully constructive criticism. Or begging to differ, with all due respect.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Sybil Vane said...

Smart and straight-up commentary, which is absolutely a step in the right direction.

Tracey has an absolute right to whatever opinion she has, as do others to disagree. Name-calling (e.g. "parasitic") detracts a bit from the trenchance of the critique, in my view, but I think what is really bothering most people is not so much the mean-ness as it is the power dynamic. Seems too much like big guy picking on little guy. I get what you are pointing out with the Burger join analogy, which is right, but it doesn't evacuate the fact that T is a member of a more powerful network in the bloggy community.

So, viz that, I think there is a gender dynamic in play, in that people don't like women with power wielding it assertively. Or women with power having strong opinions.

I myself was a bit bothered as all I coudl think of was the smart post Tracey had after the print journalist compared her to Heather. And how smartly Tracey railed against that, noting that many similarities were only superficial and that even those similarities do not themselves connote derivative stature. And people, as I remember, loved that post. The tweet in question seemed, to me, to undo a portion of that dscourse.

5:48 PM  
Blogger dana said...

As another mouthy broad, I do believe that you shouldn't dish it if you can't take it. If Sweetney's "honest with a bite" she's gonna get bitten sometimes. I know this from lots and lots of personal experience. Nothing wrong with stating your opinion boldly and snarkily, but people will bite back.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Lindy said...

god I'm sooo tired of this topic. She shouldn't have tweeted what she did. So much for the sisterhood. If she had an issue with a particular blogger she maybe should have sent her an email. Not a tweet then a follow up tweet to say we were all overreacting. I'm saying this as someone who DOES NOT READ Fussypants. So I'm not taking sides. It just felt like an attack and I understand how people got a bit defensive. Oh and I find Leah's comment is insulting and patronizing.

5:55 PM  
Anonymous Twenty Four At Heart said...

How did I not know this was going on? Is it becuz I just got back from vacation? Or is it that I am so new to the blogging community myself that I am just stumbling my way thru it ... totally clueless? I am new, but I have already had the "honor" of having someone copy one of my posts nearly verbatim. Ok, it bugged me. I am also on the opinionated side and bound to get myself into trouble at some point I would imagine. When I started my blog I could have easily used a blog name similar to someone else's, not intentionally, but cuz ... hey everybody - I am clueless, ok? Still, I would think that everyone has a lot to gain by supporting one another, and nothing to gain by being disparaging.

6:00 PM  
Blogger zeghsy said...

i read both. if someone copies me, i'll take it as flattery.

i'll give sweetney her due and check her out. ;)

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I've gotta disagree with "you have to address the content of the criticism" here. I don't care about the content, I care that she was hurtful. And not of the "oh noes Tracey isn't nice" variety of caring, but the "wow, was it necessary to call out this person who had nothing to do with you, and you had nothing to do with her, on Twitter where she is following you and so are a thousand other people?" In my opinion, Tracey was snarky in a way that any person with half a brain would realize was very hurtful.

And instead of apologizing she posted about how it's okay that she has opinions because she was unpopular in high school. WTF? Have opinions. Have lots of opinions. Don't go smearing people in a public forum and expect everyone to think you're fabulous.

The remarks made were condescending, ignorant, taunting, and yes, just plain mean. If that's the karma Tracey is comfortable with, so be it. I'm disappointed she didn't have the class to say "You know what, I didn't mean to hurt anyone" and I'm really saddened that you feel the need to defend her.

I'm sure Tracey is a lovely person. And people make mistakes; maybe she honestly didn't mean to be rude. But the way this was handled was utterly classless.

6:07 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

What Sybil Vane said. Really. And then what anonymous at 6:07 said.

6:13 PM  
Blogger jen said...

Is it OK to be mean? Sure. Free country. Is it OK to be offended? Sure. God knows we all can be offended, easily and otherwise.

But what I don't get, Bad, is why this is such a THING. Why do folks get in corners and take sides and call names to other so called name callers. What makes the reaction better than the action? Why are we so quick to joyride alongside a trainwreck?

Why aren't we instead joining together to rally against the real crimes against women? Subjugation? Rape? Domestic Violence?

I mean, is the pool we swim in really this shallow? I don't believe that for a minute, but things like this give me pause.

We are writers. We are women. We are a community. Let's move a real mountain instead of kicking sand at each other. How are we going to teach our children to disagree with healthy discourse if we can't seem to find a way to do it ourselves?

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Calling someone "parasitic" is okay, but saying that person is being mean is so seventh grade? What grade does this online slam book belong to anyway? I have an idea: If you don't want to get called a "mean girl," don't post comments about people you don't know in a public place. Inevitably you're going to either hurt or anger someone, and then it blows up in your face.

6:19 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

jen said it so well.

6:23 PM  
Blogger kgirl said...

Interesting. I sometimes think that the momosphere is vomitously diplomatic, and I like it when it gets, honest. Not mean for mean's sake, but honest. Of course, when I get honest, I lose subscribers, even when I am honest about a comment made to, for and about me. So should someone else be called out for making a comment about a third person? Why not? If she's going to put it out there, she's got to accept what comes back.

6:24 PM  
Anonymous Leah said...

Just to be clear, my comment was not meant to patronize or demean newer bloggers but to point out that what for many of them are new issues that they feel strongly about and therefore feel compelled to involve themselves in (aka by namecalling or whatever) are, to those of us who have been around awhile, old ground not worth covering again.

It's not that we're not moved or affected or angered by the same things that newer bloggers are (or that we're above it in a holier-than-thou way) but that we've already fought those wars and either made peace or learned to just stay out of the fray. Five years ago, I would have been all over this Fussypants; but now, having done my share of bellyaching over the niceness issue many times before, I just sigh and move along.

6:36 PM  
Anonymous Ree (Sometimes also known as "The Other Ree") said...

I'm glad you wrote this HBM, and I read Sweetney AND Fussypants and Fussy - I enjoy them all. I also read Fancypants and Swishy. Are those names similar enough to cause me to confuse the sites? Or to think that maybe someone is overstepping blogging bounds? WHAT blogging bounds? I missed the freakin' rules again.

I agree that we're a huge community and that anytime something like this happens, the community suffers. I missed the whole thing while it was happening, simply because I was enjoying an outpouring of that community on a particularly screwed up day. I mean one of those "damn good thing there's not a gun or pills in the house" days because I may not have been here to find out what all the fuss (shit, can I use that word? ( kid!!!) was about.

My community pulled me out. They lifted me up and told me I was going to be alright and pull through. And damned if I didn't.

Now, I know Fussypants actually wrote a post that addressed the issue. I read it before I knew that it was Sweetney's tweet that caused all of the hoopla. And personally, that's all that should have happened. If Tracey felt that she was doing something that would benefit the community, okay. I'm good with that. If Fussypants felt she was capable of responding in a post, excellent.

By the way, my name is Ree. I've posted under Ree for over a year. My site is My Life as a Hotfessional. There's ANOTHER much, much more popular Ree. I comment as Ree. I've had a popular blogger link MY name in a post to Pioneer Woman's site. I sent a correction to the blogger, who is a saint among bloggers. But no one has EVER told me I shouldn't use MY name in comments. I wonder sometimes, but y'know? I don't think I'm going to change now. If Pioneer Woman gets some extra traffic from me (ha!!!), or I get some hits because they think "ZOFG, Pioneer Woman commented on my blog!!!", then so be it. Until PW herself tells me that I shouldn't use the name Ree, I'll continue. I'm 45 years old - too freakin' old to change now.

I don't disagree with Sweetney's right to tweet her thoughts. I don't disagree with Fussypants's right to use a name she says her husband has called her forever. And if truth be told, there's going to be Mean Girls all over the place, forever and ever. I don't happen to think that Sweetney OR Fussypants were the meanies in this equation though.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous rosalicious said...

This is EXACTLY why the blogosphere is, rightfully, likened to high school.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anon - I didn't say that calling someone parasitic was okay. My point about the 'seventh grade'ness of it all was that the whole thing degenerated into a furor over the issue of meanness and that, to my mind, takes us past any opportunity for real discussion. That commenters here are already expressing their disappointment that I would defend the 'mean' girl makes my point exactly - we're not seeing the forest for the trees.

I was trying to say something along the lines of what jen said - we've got bigger issues that we could be addressing - issues that are even embedded within this controversy (viz. what I said above about the nature of our identities within this community, given our need, sometimes, to protect those identities or treat them as property.) Name-calling from either 'side' is self-defeating. I'm trying to make an argument for moving past the name-calling.

6:38 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6:38 PM  
Blogger flutter said...

Unless you copyright a name, it is not yours. Period.

Now, this is not to say that perhaps some people don't take advantage of that fact by riding the coat tails of more popular bloggers by causing minor confusion. I am not saying that is what anyone did, I am just saying, the potential is there.

The truth is we can only own our actual content and be true to our own voices. The rest really is up for popular and public consumption and imitation.

can I have a hug?

6:50 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

Catherine, I love you.

And you know what? I don't hate anyone. Period. I find this whole thing alternately amusing and disturbing, but from day one this wasn't personal for me. AT ALL. However, seeing how personal and vile people have made it in the things THEY have said truly makes me want to rethink a lot of what I believed about this community.

Were my off-handed remarks biting and critical? Yes. I agree. But I am not a "mean" person, and the comments were not intended as mean, because I don't know the author of the other blog in question from Adam OR Eve, and I was not criticizing HER. I was being critical of a THING, not a person. The inability of this community -- unlike most creative communities -- to separate those things out (the creator from the creation) is, I think, a huge problem.

As for apologies, they simply aren't appropriate: just as I don't feel the need to go apologize to James Cameron for thinking Titantic sucked and saying so publicly, in print, even! That is just how I see it -- that it ain't personal. People don't like my blog, they don't like your blog, they don't like this very blog I'm commenting on. I get critical and unpleasant feedback all the time. Dealing with criticism is part of what it means to be a writer. And yes, that criticism may not always be put in the most nicey-nice, diplomatic terms. Sorry, but that's life as a big kid.

By the by, those of you that use twitter will get this: employing the specific word "parasitic" had more to do with my character limit than anything else, it being a nice, compact term conveying the gist of what I was driving at.

Here's another nice, compact statement: Lighten up, folks! I hope to see many of you at BlogHer, and personally knock down the ridiculous straw man being made of me. I'm guessing once everyone sees with their own two eyes that I'm basically a nice, friendly person and, in fact, NOT a four-headed monster, this will all seem much less exciting.

6:54 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

dammit sweetney... i was sure you were a monster! i guess i'll put my buffy the vampire slayer costume back in the closet. :(

7:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so new to this blogging thing that I can call myself just being born compare to all of you.
I am so far just in the "being a reader" phase and all...I like your blog and so far posted couple of comments when you were down and all...

As usual for my daily "coffee brake" I thought to come and visit you and then I felt I am in the middle of grade 9th!

No idea who is who and what is what and so on...I just am wondering about one thing?

If someone is brave enough to make his/her blog public, that means he/she wants and invites and is grown up enough to accept COMMENTS....otherwise why the heck a public blog?

I mean whatever the comment was originally (if it was bad, harsh or not etc…), that was that person opinion, and the writer of the blog asked for opinion, ANY AND ALL opinion...otherwise make your blog privet and by invitation only or disable your comments box...

You are very interesting person HBD

7:04 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

A year ago-ish a nice lady joined one of the boards on Maya's Mom. She had been reading blogs and thought it looked great and really wanted to start her own, but wanted to do it right. She asked a lot of advice.

She listened carefully to everyone's advice and then sent out a ton of launch notices. I remember thinking, this lady is a genius. The lady happened to be the lady behind the Fussypants blog. It seemed smart to me that she studied blogs, saw what worked, asked questions, and followed all the right advice.

I never subscribed to her blog, although it seemed like she got super popular overnight, because all of the sudden (since I was looking) it seemed like she was in loads of places, this Fussy lady. Except it was a different Fussy, only I just didn't realize there were two of them (at the time).

But here's the kicker: at least several people saw her blog and gave opinions and you know? Even though she solicited tons of input, I don't recall anyone saying that there's another blog similarly named.

Either we didn't know (like me) or it didn't occur or it didn't seem to matter.

I feel kind of bad about that. Like the group let her down, because she asked for so much feedback.

I'm sure there are things about Fussypants' blog that seem to emulate successful bloggers. That makes sense and seems commonplace to me. I'm not the first blogger to start a writing roundtable, for example.

Whether it's by clever design or coincidence, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and also sometimes the surest path to success. Certainly what she does must be her own twist and version, her own original. I admit, I don't know, not being a reader.

I've had big bloggers come behind the scenes and say critical things to me about me and my blog. Boy, some accusations were pretty harsh. I find it a bit ironic that the harshest comments (private) came from bloggers I had known and admired rather than from trolls or something. It really stung.

I don't imagine I'm alone, and that might explain the anger and why some people are focusing on the form. I generally agree with the idea that we should focus debate on substance, but in some cases, I think debating the form has merit too. I think this is such a case. But I also agree the substance needs to be a part of the discussion.

Some things need not be said. They might be accurate in some way, or some sort of truth or perceived truth, but that might also be outweighed by the spite or hurt they might bring. Some things are better left private, and of course, the best thing is simply to live well in your own life and add value somehow to the world.

It was an issue and better to air it.

I think Jen's right.

Let's parlay this energy into something good.

7:08 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Julie, I think that you're right that there are some cases where debating the form is necessary, and that this may be such a case. But i didn't see anybody debating the form - just people calling Tracey a 'bitch' and a 'douche' and what-not, which, you know, NOT HELPFUL. I think that there's room for debate about what is or isn't appropriate for public calling-out, but I think that the word *debate* there is key - not just running with a default assumption of anything possibly hurtful = bad = verboten. That would close off a lot of public discussion.

Parlaying this energy into good? YES PLEEZ. My point exactly.

7:19 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda said...

Okay, why did my brain shrivel to the size and consistency of a pea after two kids and you just had a baby and show no signs of "baby brain" at all. Brainy and eloquent as usual, although I think dealing with virtual feuds is futile...

7:22 PM  
Anonymous sparkle said...

i agree with you. i see the same thing happen in one of my IRL communities. i wish i had some sort of explanation besides people just being way too sensitive, but anything i say might be misconstrued as "mean".

but i can say that i have *never* resolved an issue by hashing and rehashing and re-re-hashing and pouting about the meta (like the tone) of the argument instead of the actual content.

7:22 PM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

Well-written, as always, HBM.

My only issue with the whole thing was the public-ness of it. We should be enough of a community to talk TO each other, not around each other.

To me blogs are kind of like movies - there's not much in the way of original these days. The big difference is that blogs are US, they are who we are as individuals. So even if we all had the same template, font and name, no two blogs would ever truly be alike.

I read blogs based on what the stories are, not the names. I could care less about ads or numbers of comments or what cool header someone has. As it happens, I read both of these aforementioned blogs, but have never read the compared to Fussy. Will I start? Sure, if I am drawn in by something she says, but not because of the controversy.

When I first read the twitters I had no clue as to what was being referred to; I read the tweets and moved along until I started to read posts on it. I hate conflict, I hate being on both sides of the fence. I get what both bloggers were saying, and I don't discount the issue, I just think it wasn't handled the best way.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Julie Pippert said...

I agree, Catherine. The point of my last paragraph applied to any of the unnecessary comments---no need to attack anybody personally in a hurtful way.

So hey how are those crickets? Still lovely and country and sunny summer?

:)

7:25 PM  
Blogger Tracey said...

Hmmm. I have never even heard of Fussypants. Or Fussy. If I were to start a blog today, and call myself Fussy and exist with that name for a few months and THEN find out that another blog existed with a similar name, what then?

Are we not allowed to name our children the same names?

Can I not name my son Jasper, if I wanted to, because HBM named her son that?

I don't know any of these women, but I'm sure that the blogging community themselves are the ones who have made this a bigger deal than the 3 women involved would have ever imagined.

That said: Just IMAGINE the blog hits these 3 blogs will get because of this!! DUDE. SOMEbody get up in arms over my name! PLEASE. In fact, Sweetney's real name is Tracey, too, right?

AHA!!! Found my in.

:)

7:26 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

everytime i see the word PARLAY i think of pirates of the caribbean. carry on.

7:27 PM  
Blogger NotAMeanGirl said...

I know that on the internet creative property is stolen and improperly appropriated. One of my friends that's a fairly well known blogger is having a problem with it as we speak. It's made man in our community overly sensitive to theft of their voice, brand and copy.

Sweetney pointed out some large similarities she saw on a blog when compared to some of the big name blogger's homes.

She's a very fun hearted, sweet and dry witted person who at times comes across harshly because she is so plain spoken.

Our COMMUNITY is supposedly made of adults... let's act like that's the case and recognize the situation for what it was, learn from it, and MOVE ON.

Neither Fussypants NOR Sweetney deserves the shitstorm that this has turned into.

(HBM Sorry to hijack your comments. :) )

7:28 PM  
Blogger jennster said...

i actually said this in another blog's comment section that personally, i think the whole name thing is kinda messed up. i DO believe that on the net- we have branded ourselves.. we are making a living (some of us) with our names.. they are our association. basically, i feel that I AM JENNSTER (hear me roar) and that if someone else tried to come in and be all "I AM JENNSTER".. i'd be like.. whoa, step off. i'm the ster of jenn, not you. (although i know there are probably hundreds of jenn's out there who call themselves jennster and i'm being completely unrealistic and crazy) while i don't think that the other mrsfussy intentionally took the name AT ALL, when i saw the post that alerted me to all the said drama, i was like "is it fussy, fussy???" but it wasn't. i don't have the answer- but i know that personally i would not like someone else to be going around saying they were jennster. i feel like that is my mark- my name- my identity- and that i've earned it and worked for it, etc. is it wrong to feel that way? dunno, but it's how i feel. and let me reitterate again that i do not think that mrsfussy did the whole name thing on purpose.. at all. i mean, it's been her nickname forever, so it seems right that she would call herself that. (just like i'm sure other jennster's out there feel the same). i guess i just understand the sensitivity to the whole name thing, when online- it's pretty much who we are. it's how we're identified, etc.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Sybil Vane said...

This Titanic analogy continues to be really problematic. 1 because there is no conceivable way that anything you say about the film, now or when it was released, could have any significant impact on the way Cameron is perceived within the cinematic community. 2 because Cameron is not now nor was he ever your peer. When a famous filmmaker publicly says something bitingly critical about a peer, it becomes a big shitstorm (e.g. when Spike Lee says CLint Eastwood's movie racistly excluded representations of black soldiers) not unlike this one.

8:02 PM  
Blogger queenofspain said...

Just a couple of clarifications on what I wrote-

I purposely avoided links and names because frankly I didn't want to get the cycle of links going the way it usually goes and see it spin and spin. I see now that reasoning was wrong, because it's done that anyway. My bad.

I also wanted to write a post talking about how I have learned to take the high road more than usual lately, and it's harder than you'd think. (and the crowd says DUH)And I crafted my words very carefully to try and be fair and non offensive.

Maybe this all comes back to the idea that we really are businesses and we need to operate accordingly.

I've been trying to convey my very loud opinions lately in a much more diplomatic manner, knowing full well we all have much larger audiences and it affects many more people...I'd like to think I am still me, just smarter about what I say.

I think both Tracy and Alison got snarky and defensive, and I think points were made on both sides. I'd like to see everyone, well, as they say HUG IT OUT BITCHES!

But now I'm probably in trouble for saying Bitches. lol

Would Jimmy Carter say Hug it out Bitches? hmmmmm

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Erika Jurney said...

Yeah, ditto. From this morning:

http://plainjanemom.com/2008/07/02/why-should-women-always-have-to-be-nice/

8:06 PM  
Blogger Belinda said...

"Do we all need a lecture on Nietszche and herd morality? DON'T MAKE ME."

PLEEEEZ NOES! A thousand times NOOOOES!

See, I have this figured out. You pick a blog-name that is SO ridiculous that no one would ever want to copy it, nor would they ever also pick it accidentally. BAM.

Of course, then no one ever takes you seriously, either.

Catherine, I actually quoted you (out of context, naturally) in email to Tracey the other day, regarding the "foundation" of this community of mom bloggers: "That s**t will crack." It doesn't take much, either.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Liza said...

Whew. I missed the whole snarkfest til now, and I'm tired just from reading this post.

8:15 PM  
Anonymous HeatherK said...

I see people tweet stuff all the time that they wouldn't likely put on their blog. Is it because Twitter isn't that out there or doesn't lend itself to following as does a feed reader? Didn't see the comment and don't read Tracey or know her personality, but I would be inclined to make similar statements nonetheless. There is one dad blog in particular that seems like a knock-off of another dad blog complete with quirky kid photos. But, um, yeah, not so sure which is the chicken and which is the egg, but rather that the blogosphere is likely big enough for both.

8:16 PM  
Blogger THopgood said...

Oh dear God the drama! I'm a newbie to twitter and relatively new to blogging in the public way and all this drama is giving me a headache....seriously....

I'm re-thinking my twitter involvement as this is a bit too much for me....

8:17 PM  
Blogger Adventures In Babywearing said...

The whole entire drama left me disappointed, but that is my personal opinion. I was disappointed at the original tweet and then even more disappointed that the "defenders" decided to go lower than the original offense, like you are saying.

So glad for it all to be forgotten soon and waiting for the big group hug.

Steph

8:19 PM  
Anonymous veep veep said...

when i saw that twitter, i was a bit surprised to see it wasnt veiled at all but honestly not everyone gets a hug for everything they do.

we all have opinions. we all have beliefs and sometimes without knowing someone those opinions and beliefs are completely wrong about a person.

believe me, i know. i get it all the time with the completely wrong assumptions people make about me just based on where i live, etc.

glad to see everyone chatted it out. i'm sure there will be more to come long after blogher, etc.

8:26 PM  
Anonymous Dana said...

You go HBM. Exactly as I've said: a community and a cult? Two different things. And with some of the crap I've seen, I call bullshit on a lot of folks screaming "community."

I was the first to use my name commercially. I trademarked it - incidentally, protecting the proprietary interest in a brand name requires trademarking, NOT copyrighting. The USPTO agreed. I've had people come around trying to use a name I came out with years ago and those same people got bent out of shape when I cried foul. Yes, you can trademark a word. The end.

Also, we have Google now. I don't buy ignorance anymore or that someone "didn't bother looking across the street." If someone can't take the time to check out a brand name idea, then they should prepare themselves for the shitstorm to follow.

I'm tired of people using the "community" excuse as reason to borrow into other writers' intellectual property. KNOCK IT THE HELL OFF. If someone doesn't have the foresight to practice goodwill with regards to IP, then do not expect goodwill in return.

It would be nice if everyone got a long, but utopia translated means nothing, nowhere.

8:26 PM  
OpenID katesaid said...

I may be in the minority, but I love online drama. Love it. It is such a fantastic way of exercising the intellect, playing with words, viewing things from a different angle, experiencing some emotional upheaval and righteousness and disturbance without actually risking permanent damage (at least, most of the time)... it's good stuff.

In fact, I may need to go stir something up sometime soon.

8:27 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

i am, for one, all for hugging it out, bitches.

i mean, do we really see all of this going somewhere useful? REALLY? because if we do, i'm willing to sit it out. but if not, what's the fucking point?

this shouldn't be about being right, about "winning". i for one have said my peace and i've stood my ground, yes, but that doesn't mean i'm deaf to reason that says: all of this is pointless. pointless and also unnecessarily destructive. bygones. onward, upward.

however, i'm sure there are some that don't want to let this go, because let's face it: the peoples luv them some drama! yee-haw! LET US CONTINUE TEH DRAMAZ BY ALL MEANS.

phooey, i say. also: yaaaawn, i say.

8:36 PM  
Blogger Mandee - I Think You Should said...

I'm not really a member of this community (being childless and hardly blogging) other than in my role as first class lurker. Thank you, Catherine, for raising (or attempting anyway) the level of the discussion.

Yes, Tracey's tweet was snarky. So is Tracey. But the sanctimonious vilification of her as a person is disappointing. People certainly have a right to disagree with what she said and how she said it--and there is certainly some merit to be found in some of those arguments. But make the damn argument people. Explain yourself (see Sybil's comments in this thread). Based on what I've learned from reading Tracey for several years, she would gladly welcome this kind of debate. But don't jump to your friend's defense by bashing someone else because she's "popular" and sarcastic.

Again, thanks, Catherine. I really just wanted you to know you were heard.

8:38 PM  
Blogger Bea said...

This post is literally ALL I know about this particular controversy, so I have no comment to make about who was mean and who wasn't. But I don't think the issue of popularity can simply be dismissed as irrelevant. It's the difference between a shout and a whisper. I have often seen snarky comments made by small-time bloggers who clearly have no idea that Technorati exists - they're having what feels to them like a private conversation in their small corner of the blogosphere and they're shocked and repentant when the person they're talking about turns out to be standing right there listening. (Okay, now I'm having bad flashbacks to troublesome students lurking outside my office.) I always feel more pity than anything for someone caught out in this way. But an experienced and popular blogger knows that she has an audience and that her opinion carries a certain amount of weight. There is a responsibility that goes with that. If you're 6'4" and 200 lbs of pure muscle, you need to work harder than the rest of us at not coming across as a bully (especially if the person you're talking to is 5'2" and 98 lbs).

Now for the substance of the argument. There are three ways that I can think of to protect our right to the things we create. There are legal safeguards (copyright, trademarks, owning our URLs), which may be expanded, perhaps, though very few bloggers earn enough money to make litigation worthwhile. Then there's a kind of free-market approach, where we can hope or assume that the cream will rise to the top. If Her Bad Mommy comes along, for instance, I very much doubt that she'll manage to usurp your place in the blogosphere (and if she has developed the name consciously and deliberately in mimicry of you, it's even less likely).

In between these two approaches is a kind of social policing: we may not be able to make such mimicry illegal, and we may not want to simply trust that the work we're producing can withstand the competition, so the third option is to rely on social disapproval as a deterrent. I'm not a big fan of social disapproval, and in this case I can't imagine it working (upstart bloggers are rarely tuned in to these kinds of subtleties).

8:39 PM  
Blogger Heather B. said...

I agree with you Catherine and Adventures in Babywearing; the comments about Tracey were far worse than the comment that Tracey made. Comments on Fussypants post first stated that they found Tracey to be cruel and mean and low but then they would refer to her as "the bitch of the blogosphere" or "Cruella DeVille" not one sentence later. Um, I think referring to someone with more hateful names doesn't help the situation and is equally as low. It's unnecessary. These are probably many of the same woman who will meet Tracey in two weeks and actually really like her. The point is fighting fire with fire isn't helpful.

Also while this entire situation has been labeled as another "mommyblogger" flame war. I'd like to point out that when referencing the community, Catherine is far more dead on; it's not JUST mommy bloggers but there is more to this community. We ALL read and enjoy each others blogs no matter where we are in our respective lives. So if something happens to one blogger it happens to all of us.

8:43 PM  
Blogger BreezieGirl said...

I knew nothing of this... as I knew of none of those blogs; however, I found your argument(s) to be clear, well-articulated, and accurate.

As an apparent outsider to "drama", criticizing the critic is not productive.

8:45 PM  
Anonymous andi said...

Wow, HBM. What a well-written, well-reasoned piece in response to what is turning into an ugly, unreasonable frenzy.

Yes, I was one of those who thought the tweets were, I'll just say it, unnecessarily mean. And I say that as someone who doesn't read Fussypants. I just think there might have been a more diplomatic, maybe less publicly- humiliating way to go about it. That's just my opinion...

I pretty much agree with what Anonymous 6:07, Julie Pippert, and Sybil Vane said - not sure I could say it better.

I totally agree with you though that we need to have some serious, critical debate about issues - blogging and otherwise - that are not going to happen if we all insist on being "nice" and pretending to agree with eachother for the sake of keeping the piece. However, I do think (I hope, at least) that we can do this while being respectful of eachother's opinions and not resorting to name-calling which is what happened on both sides of this issue.

Again, thought-provoking and well said. These things are rarely black-and-white and you captured that beautifully.

8:46 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

So I leave the blogosphere for a week or two and this is what I come back to find? Damn, I never should have opened my reader this evening. Anyhow, yes we shouldn't call people douches for expressing opinions, as controversial or stinging the op may be. Expression of upset resulting of expressed opinion is why we are here, but still - no need to call anyone a douche, or bitch, or bitchy douche. So bottom line, there is no right time to call anyone names unless they just stole your drink. Or parking space.

Is the controversy over now and I can go back to reading or should I just stay away for another week?

8:49 PM  
Blogger motherbumper said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Mama Luxe said...

I think I "get" your point but I have to disagree on a few things.

Before I do, I want to 100% agree that name calling is just unproductive. And I always get frustrated when I see comments about a woman's appearance used to put her down.

1. But I also want to point out that the name calling on Twitter was from Sweetney. Call it "biting" or an efficient use of characters or whatever you like...but I think it was just plain nasty. Whereas Alli/Fussypants neither initiated nor, to my knowledge, participated in the name calling. Her commenters did, and I suppose she could have deleted those...but I don't think that was necessary in this case. In fact, I think Alli took the high road, acknowledged she was hurt (yes, women CAN be tough, but we can also have feelings, too), addressed things calmly, and did not (to me at least) have a "poor me" attitude asking people to come to her defense. She seemed quite capable of defending herself.

I'll take your word that there are lots of posts out there that are unproductive. I just read Queen of Spain and Fussypants' posts and clicked yours because I have a lot of respect for your writing and intellect.

2. I want to ditto Julie about how Alli solicited a LOT of advice in improving her blog. I was thinking about this as the "controversy" began. No one mentioned Fussy and I think suggesting she should of just looked across the street is overstating things. No matter how HUGE someone thinks a mommy blogger (or any blogger) is, chances are most people, even a large number of bloggers, haven't heard of that person. Doing due diligence is one thing, but "Fussy" is a fairly darn common word to search. When we started Mamanista, I search and (ironically) came up only with your post using it as a critical term... which almost derailed my use of it but for the fact that almost every other term seemed to have even bigger issues. And even if she had searched and found someone else is using it, it is something that (as she explained) had a larger meaning to her with a past.

3. The original "charge" rings false for me. Which doesn't mean Sweetney shouldn't make it. It is her own reaction, to which she has a right. However, I think all the analogies here have missed the mark. Really, the only commonality here is the name...a fairly common word at that...and that she is also a mommmy blogger who posts pictures, like others before her. That's derivative? Then so are a lot of us. How many of us are classy, bad, red, queens, or whatever. I hadn't posted or commented before to the original "point" of the tweet because I think Alli handled that quite well all by herself. She acknowledges her inspirations. And she is also an original, to the extent anyone can be. No one would have become as popular of a blogger as she is without offering something interesting.

4. I don't think you can rule out the nastiness of the comment by calling it "criticism." Simple name calling is not criticism...even if it is followed by some supporting evidence (also delivered mockingly). And the original comment was low on content, so I don't think it is entirely unfair that the delivery became the issue. It is unfair to expect that tweeting out some small snarky remark is going to start an issue like that. But I guess people like Sweetney have a bigger reach than she imagined.

5. Alli wasn't just hurt by an off-hand comment on twitter...she was flooded by hatemail. For which you can't blame Sweetney, but I think it helps explain why this was then addressed in a different forum. If I was flooded by hatemail, I would want a chance to address that, as well.

6. I also agree with Sybil Vane that there is a power dynamic here at play. If we want to talk about women being raised to "play nice" and how that messes with our abilities to assert ourselves, then I think we also need to address the ways in which women "at the top" seem to sabotage those working their way up. I certainly don't want to guess at Sweetney's motives (conscious or not) or attribute this in any way to her, as I do not know her. Even if I did, I would hesitate to do so. However, if we're going to start applying a broader feminist context to this discussion, I don't think that can be left out.

And finally, to Sweetney:

You may see your blog as a work separate from you as a person, but you are aware (by your comment) that others do not. Although some are consciously crafting a "work," others are blogging for different reasons. A finished film, a novel, etc., is a whole 'nother creature. Of course, blogging and marketing your blog puts you "out there" and I appreciate a little better where you are coming from thanks to your comment here. However, I don't think you dismiss those who see things differently and declare that this is an inability to understand your point or a problem. Everyone blogs for different reasons.

I'm sure you are a lovely person with just the one head. If I weren't 8 months' pregnant, I would be looking forward to perhaps meeting you at BlogHer.

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Sherry said...

I did see Tracey's comment, and, while I'm almost certain I'm in the minority, I did find it a bit, well, much.

Let me see if I can explain...

I absolutely, 159% believe anyone and everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. However. Those opinions sometimes come with consequences. Tracey made some hefty accusations in what she said, and others responded just as passionately and intensely as Tracey's first Tweet. She basically accused another blogger of total plagarism. A copycat. As a writer, THAT is perhaps the worst insult you can lob at a fellow blogger.

My parents always taught me, it's not WHAT you say, it's HOW you say it. I happen to think this instance falls into that category.

9:04 PM  
Blogger NES said...

I'm not sure what moves me to post here; I'm a long-time blog-lurker and a relatively new blogger. I didn't know Fussypants before this but I've followed Sweetney for a while, originally because I heard she lives not so far from me and writes about that sometimes. I kept following her because she has a great, original POV. But I imagine anyone who is a fan of Sweetney knows she's not one to mince words, and (I'm guessing) one who blurts out what she thinks. Take it or leave it, that's part of her package, right?, the same package that makes her voice so enjoyable to read. I saw her tweets as they went out and felt bemused in an "oh, she's at it again" sort of way. I don't want to comment on ANYBODY'S behavior, but I'd like to offer an observer's opinion. Watching the big-leaguers move around the blogosphere, being fascinated by the interrelationships, but being outside of them-- there are so many of us watching you! I'm not sure what I've learned about blogging from this whole series of exchanges except to see more of the blogosphere infrastructure, so to speak. Not the intended consequence, obviously, but it's great primer material for a newbie.

9:10 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

I thought you all might find this amusing: people are actually emailing me, asking me to insult them. hilarious.

i just want to add one final statement, and i add it only because i feel this discussion is spirited but fair, and because i love catherine, and if there is to be a complete record of this event i think she deserves it to be here.

that statement is: i'm not a heather. a mean girl. an A-List Evil MommyBlogger, hellbent on crushing those beneath me. i think all of that is, pardon my french, fucking bullshit.

the truth is -- and this is known to many reading this, 'A-list', 'B-list' and 'F-list' alike: i just plain don't believe in that shit, and i have good friends from what people would consider to be every level of that hierarchy. homey just don't play dat. period.

if i resent anything about how all of this has gone down, it is that. the accusations that i'm a Big Bad Popular Blogger, and that my opinions are somehow tied up with that. WRONG. i'm ME. take it or leave it, but ME. and if you've read Sweetney at all, you KNOW beyond a shadow of doubt that i could give a fucking shit about hierarchy. again, pardon my bluntness, but i have to call plain old fashioned BULLSHIT on that.

call me a mouthy broad. call me snarky, critical, biting, opinionated, and judgmental. GRANTED. but i'm not a snob, or a Popular Girl in any way you would conceive of it. it's just not my world. i won't let it be. THE END.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

MamaLuxe - I didn't mean for the McDonald's analogy - the 'across the street' part - to be taken literally.

And my whole thing about the meanness - even if one regards Tracey's comment as just 100% plain old meanness masquerading as criticism, as opposed to snark, I still think that it doesn't serve the community for the response to devolve into vicious name-calling (again, I saw some nasty names.) If it's wrong for someone to be mean to begin with, then its wrong to hit back with nuclear-strength meanness. My whole point was that as a community, we missed an opportunity for discourse by having it become all about degrees of meanness. There's only so much that can be said about how much snark is too much snark in a community like ours before it just gets bitchy and pointless. There were other potential issues here, and my point is that we missed them.

I take your point - and Bea's, and others - about popularity, that it does affect how a blogger's actions/words are received. My thinking had been - and still is to some extent - that few bloggers self-identify as popular and so don't plan their actions or comments with their 'popularity' in mind. Tracey wasn't thinking 'oh hai I'm popular I can say this,' or even contemplating how far her words would travel. She was a private person tweeting a thought in a semi-public forum. Should she have thought more about that? Maybe. But many or most of us often aren't thinking that far ahead when we blurt out a tweet.

9:19 PM  
Blogger Karen said...

managed to miss this whole damn thing - guess a person can't actually spend too much time at the beach, even if she comes back slightly burnt, at least it is only by the sun.

but, I do think that in general, women like to give the smack down to other women aren't deemed "nice," and somehow if they are doing that they are off to hook for being "nice," themselves. It is the strange way our society lets women get their aggression out, by being all bitchy one some else's behalf (in this case the second fussy blogger - have I got that right? still slightly confused on that score...)
Anyway, it'd be nice if we, as women, could reject that as our outlet for our aggressive energy and instead, you know, fix the world, run a marathon, bake some brownies and go out on the town for drinks.

9:32 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

ick. fucking girl politics.

well. usually girl politics.

oh nevermind. it'll be forgotten in no time. the politics that is.

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Veronica @ Toddled Dredge said...

After all this furor, I'm wondering how I can piss off Tracey. It must be great for the stats.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicken said...

As a former newspaper reporter who worked for a very small community paper, I have a slightly different take on this.

I had to write things - with my name on them - for many years. In a small community, sometimes people got their feelings hurt by my words.

And they reacted.

When you are a public persona - and we all are, in the blogosphere, popular or not - and you say shit, you take a risk.

The risk is hurting or being hurt. Period.

This is a public forum and Fussypants put herself out there.

Was the word "parasitic" necessary?

No.

Have I found her to be derivative?

Yes.

But the point is this: Fussypants has a blog. She is a vocal blog citizen.

Sweetney has a blog. She is a vocal blog citizen.

They are both essentially public figures. So, all bets are off.

I agree that this should open a wider debate about intellectual property and persona.

But that said, might I add? There are no new stories under the sun, folks. This too shall pass.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Very thought provoking post HBM. I have to disagree however, that no one addressed the true issue in any of the comments. I read a comment on Sweetney's high school post last night by Backpacking Dad that addressed some of this. My comment on the same post addressed it, although minimally, as well.

I'm not a new blogger, but I'm definitely a small blogger. It's just recently I've started to get traffic to my site and am really working to make something of my blog. I’m not a great writer, but I enjoy writing.

Frankly, after all this I'm a little worried. What if someone thinks my blog is parasitic? Maybe my blog name Mommy Needs Therapy is similar to another blog that I don't know about? I've seen things I like on other blogs and tried them on mine. Will I be called to the carpet for that? I think it is unlikely, since I’m not big time, but now I’m left wondering.

Yes Tracey has every right to speak her piece. I think perhaps it would have been more appropriate had she addressed it with Fussypants herself, rather than in a forum like Twitter. Or even as a post on her own blog, where she could explain herself fully. It certainly appeared to me that she felt passionate about her opinion on this. I find her use of Twitter to express this interesting, especially since she herself in an earlier comment said she used the word parasitic because of the character limit of Twitter. It did come off us hyper critical and yes, high school. That is my opinion.

I think what disturbs me more though, is how she has handled the fall out. Clearly she is hurt and upset by how people are responding to her, whether she will admit this or not. I would have far more respect for her if she acknowledged that how she addressed this on Twitter may not have been appropriate, or that she never meant for it to be taken as an attack, or that she could have worded it differently, better. She acknowledges being biting and critical, but I still have not seen her express regret for that. I also find it hard to believe that saying she was addressing a THING and not a PERSON makes any of this OK. And I absolutely agree with Sybil Vane’s comment discussing the Titanic analogy.

I do hope that some of the real issues that this has brought to light are addressed. I for one, as a minor blogger, would like to better understand “the rules” as I try to grow.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Schmitty said...

Everyone just needs to move the fuck on. Let's get back to poopy diapers, sex, and rock and roll! ;)

10:02 PM  
OpenID verybadcat said...

Holy shit-storm, batman!

1. Interesting.I was talking with a fellow female manager at work today. We're frustrated because our employees want to hold us to these impossible standards of not being snarky or having bad days or being exclusive. They want us to love them unconditionally, as a mother would, but the fuckin' hate us. Our power and authority make us the Mean Girls, even though we are *hardly* the Mean Girl type. We acknowledged that the male managers are judged by the same standards, but no one has the nerve to accuse them of being catty when they fall short. People don't become flawless idols because they're successful. Why do you care so much what I think if I'm a stark ravin' Mean Girl bitch? It's enough to drive a girl to drink.

2. You mommybloggers take the love for granted. I'm a member of a formal community- twenty something bloggers- and there is love and camaraderie, but we've got nothing on ya'll. Of course, part of that is because you have more in common than an age bracket. How I long for a long-time-married-career-driven-but-also-babysick-but-still-too-poor-and-too-scared community like the mommybloggers have. You won't know what you've got till you've paved paradise and put up a parking lot, for Chrissakes.

3. Some loverly lady has the cattails wordpress address. I covet that address. Some other loverly lady has registered cattails.com. What a pisser! If someone popped up as verybadcat, I would not have the luxury of wondering if they were trying to ride my coattails. I would have to make contact with a gentle, friendly request. It is my opinion that the bloggers who do have the luxury of suspecting coattail riding activity should approach the same way I would. In accounting, we handle collections. In handling collections, we always leave the other party an out. "We haven't received your check- could you see if it's cleared your account? It could have been lost in the mail." This, by virtue of being polite and gentle, instills the desire to please. When one does not have a legal venue, one must rely on persuasion. This would all only relate to the situation, of course, if the original Fussy were raising the issue.

4. Sweetney is a great blogger. I'm almost sure she deleted one of my comments, and I haven't read her since. It wasn't because of any ill will- I figured she mistook or misunderstood or flat out did not care for what I had said, and I took that as a sign that perhaps a better connection could be nurtured elsewhere. Life was so simple back then.

5. Isn't it rude to point out when others are rude? Isn't it mean to call someone else out for being mean? Doesn't that mean that we should really just all move on, and maybe realize that life and people are rude and mean, and most of the time it isn't even on purpose, it just happens, and it's a lot easier to know what people think than to try and guess and maybe we could find a big girl panties sale?

I've wanted to tell you this for three thousand years, but there never seemed like an appropriate time (as in, not creepy). My first name is Catherine. You are the reason that I will not ever use my full first name in the blogosphere. Cat will do. Partly out of respect for you, but moreso because I deserve an identity of my own- my very own- and that means not being the "other" Catherine. If I were to ever become "popular enough" to be compared to you. One can only hope! :)

xoxo

10:06 PM  
Blogger zoot said...

I'm feeling really shitty right now b/c I've been so out of touch in the blogosphere since my son was born that I didn't even know this was going on.

Other than that? I don't have much to say because it's kinda dumb for me to chime in on something I didn't even know was going on. Just wanted to make you feel better for being out of touch, you are obviously more in touch than I am.

10:16 PM  
Blogger Miscellaneous-Mum said...

What I find interesting - or potentially interesting - is what we all take away from this once the dust settles.

Yes, didactic as it is, I think we can all learn some significant pointers:

1) We write in arguably the most contestable medium there is.

2) This debate opens up a whole can of worms of what is 'worthy' or 'criticisable' (not a word, I know) in the blogging community which many people, as they come to formulate their own voices and identities, just have no way of processing yet, if at all. The 'silence' which this was initially met with may be a) fear/indimitation to 'be the first' to speak out OR b) confusion. I myself, as I've been out of the loop, don't know where to 'enter' this discussion properly, and even by doing so here don't know where I stand. I have no locus, no back history I can reference and say, "okay, so this is the timeline of these debate(s).

[This is exactly the FOURTH comment I've sat down to write today. I've deleted all the others before I've hit 'post'. Even now I don't know if I've said what I wanted to say, even.]

10:16 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

kristine, i have said i didn't mean it be a *personal* attack, and that this wasn't meant in any way personal whatsoever.

however, i also have no regrets, other than regret for people's responses, which in my view have been fairly hysterical and visceral, and generally not very objective, logical, or thoughtful.

i am a critical theory English MA/PhD major -- this formed my adult perspective on the world. i just think different than many of you -- at least that is what i surmise from how some people are responding. you take harsh, untempered criticism as Meanness and Rudeness. I take it as par for the course and impersonal. this is where we part company in terms of our basic perception of things. i'm not sure how that can be mended. toe-may-toe, toe-mah-toe?

you may continue to pound away at my perception of things, if that is what you wish to do, have at it. you will not pound regret out of me, however. sorry kids, i yam what i yam. i never claimed to be perfect.

10:17 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

ps: verybadcat wins for best comment evar.

10:21 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

verybadcat - may I call you Catherine, between us, as friends? Because, what Sweetney said.

xo

10:32 PM  
Blogger Chag said...

If you're out at a bar with friends and someone talks smack to you, your friends get your back. That's what happened here. Fussypants's friends believed she was wronged and they piled on (albeit some very meanly and harshly).

Sweetney had every right to state her opinion. Fussypants (and her fans who felt wronged) had every right to respond. And really, that's where it should've ended.

Personally, I feel that post after post on the subject where each author shares his/her opinion on the brouhaha does more harm to the community than the actual brouhaha itself. I would've never known about this had I not read it about it here and elsewhere.

And yeah, I realize that by commenting on the subject I am not helping it go away any sooner.

10:37 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Chag - guilty as charged. But I felt strongly that the level of discourse had gotten out of control and - partly as a measure of defense on behalf of Sweetney - I wanted to say something to the effect of EVERYBODY TONE IT DOWN PLEEZ KAYTHXBAI.

And in any case, the discussion here has been pretty civil and productive, for the most part, and that's something good. But yeah, I've perpetuated the whole thing, and for that I should be denied liquor for one whole day. As penance.

10:44 PM  
Blogger Sybil Vane said...

I have a PhD in English, knee deep in teh theory, and I am not sure that can itself account for the perspective difference, babe. The author is dead, la di da. I'm an admirer of yours and certainly this is Too Big of a Thing, but it is hard for me to believe that a you think power networks/hierarchies on the webs don't exist just because you don't personally value them.

10:46 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

sybil vane -- oh you want to go THERE, do you? mwahahahaa!! heh.

listen, i can't control how people perceive me. clearly people think of me in terms of an imagined hierarchy... how is that conceived, though? longevity? yes, i've been around a while. granted. but if you want to talk about cliqueyness, you're barking up the wrong fucking tree, man. at the very least, some of you can back me up on THAT. i am not pro-clique. i am pro individuals having individual relationships. that is all. believe it or don't.

my friends are people whose writing i respect and who i connect with personally. that's it, simple as that. easily half of those people are practically unknown (gasp!). so who am i? tell me, really, i'd like to know, since everyone here seems to have an idea.

keep cramming me into your boxes, people. i know it makes it easier to do that, to believe those things. it doesn't, however, make it right or true.

10:59 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

PS: i'm going to depart this thread now... i don't wanna bogart the discussion, frankly, and i fear i might be. y'all feel free to email me privately, with questions, however.

peace out, betches.

11:03 PM  
Anonymous andi said...

OMG, just re-read my comment and noticed I wrote "piece" instead of "peace". Not that anyone will notice or give a flying fuck, but I'm ridiculously anal-retentive about these things.

I'm loving the discussion in the comments! Even though there is some obvious disagreement, I'm loving the thoughtful arguments. :)

11:06 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Sheesh. I take a little break from blogging, drop in a few places and holy shit -- the drama!

I think what I find disturbing isn't that Sweetney expressed a strong opinion -- it's that she didn't address the person "charged" directly.

I'm a journalist. I hear frequently from people who question my stories or don't like the way I covered something. Point is, they call or email me directly.

In this case, an opinion wasn't directed TO the person being criticized. That's my impression anyway.

And because of that, yes, the twittering is going to be perceived by most as petty and snarky and mean.

I have no problem with someone who's outspoken and opinionated. But if you can't express your issues or concerns to the person who upsets you and decide instead to rant behind that person's back in the locker room -- well, that's just petty, snarky and hell, downright cowardly, particularly when the critical person is a popular A-list blogger who's slamming one of the littler guys.

The fact that Sweetney didn't say anything directly to the other Fussy is the crux of the issue.

If she did, fine. I take back what I've just said. If she didn't, perhaps those strong opinions should be offered in a classier fashion.

It's fine to be blunt. It's not OK to snark to other people about someone if you don't have the balls to confront the woman you're harshly criticizing.

I'm pretty sure that I'd prefer to be called a parasite to my face, rather than to hear from other bloggers that someone's accusing me -- on freaking Twitter, no less -- of being an unoriginal copycat.

11:14 PM  
Blogger All Adither said...

What the world needs now...is love, sweet love...it's the only thing, that there's just too little of.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It all seems a bit ridiculous to me and very much like the in-crowd vs. the outsiders. We are mommy-bloggers - we are all derivative of each other to some extent and that isn't a bad thing.

11:34 PM  
Blogger Major Bedhead said...

Oh. My. God. Who cares? Seriously. Read who you want to read. Don't read who you don't want to read. Why does this have to be a competition? Why does it have to be about who has more readers or more commenters or more support on friggin' Twitter??? God. Who. Cares.

I read who I want to read. Some of them are A-listers. Some of them are D-listers. And y'know what? I don't really give a flying fart which list they belong to, I'm going to read them anyway and if I'm not in with the in crowd, well, I'm sort of fine with that.

Maybe this is why I'm not in with the in crowd. I just don't get it.

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Momily said...

I feel like I am in the Dark Ages as I'm still not really sure what Twitter is and what the point of it is. . . .

Anyhoo, two years ago a friend of mine sent me a link to HBM's blog. She is friends with someone who knows HBM and she suggested to me, "hey, why don't you blog about being a mom and stuff for all your friends to read." Had it not been for that suggestion and reading your big and thoughtful blog and learning about mommy-blogging, i never would have started my very small and unimportant blog that is pretty much the best therapy ever for me. I kinda thought that was the point of the "the community."

Anyhoo #2 - perhaps we should look to our kids on how to best handle this - bite, shove, hit one moment, forget about it the next and move on to being friends again after that.

12:05 AM  
Anonymous Danielle said...

Keep Blogging Lame.
That's all I've taken away from this experience.

12:10 AM  
Blogger Rachael said...

I don't have a ton to say about this, except that every guide to blogging and how to start out for people like me reaching out desperately to figure out what the hell I'm doing includes doing a search for the name you want to use to make sure that no one else is already using it. Having said that, maybe Fussypants has had that nickname for years. Who knows? In any case, the whole brou-ha-ha is sort of pointless and sounds like five year olds tattling. It was just an opinion - one person thinks the names are too similar. It's a fact that one existed first, and it's a fact that if Fussypants refers to herself as Fussy it could be confusing for some people who are not familiar with her.

In the end, I think we should all just try to get along. No one said anyone was BAD or DISLIKED. It was just an observation. We need to support each other - so many women and other people look to their fellow bloggers for community and support, and there's no reason that we need to make it all icky. SPREAD THE LOVE!

12:14 AM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

Yowza. I missed this whole thing. I guess that's what happens when you don't tweet and don't know any of the so-called big bloggers but you?

I will say this about naming, though:

I have twice had bloggers that were newer than me or who only just discovered me note the similarities between the blogonyms we've given our children and acknowledge that it might be awkward and in one case, even apologize. Me, I know I'm not the only one who calls their kid pumpkin as a nickname, so that bothers me not a jot.

The fact that someone else owns kittenpie.com? Doesn't make me angry at them, only wishing I had gotten there first. Which I didn't. Ah, well, maybe some day I'll come up with a variant that I like enough to buy. So far, I haven't thought of one, so maybe I'll just wait it out. C'est la vie, n'est-ca pas?

Then again, if I was a big enough blogger that it was likely others knew about me, and someone came along and named themselves something really similar? Well, I might feel a little annoyed, but I'd have to trust that the things that made me in the first place would keep me in that same status, no?

And finally, I do hate when the momosphere turns itself inside out and on itself like this, but it seems to happen a couple of times a year, as if we need some sort of good culling or a break from all the togetherness, or maybe just a good nap. I have to trust it will blow over as it has the other times. It's just a shame there has to be damage in the process.

12:24 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I just started a blog called HER BAD FUSSY MOTHER...is that wrong?!!!!!!

honestly, I am new to this community and have NO idea what you are talking about...

but glad you are back from your mental break...look forward to hearing more about you...

12:52 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

Okay, fresh from viewing the movie "Untraceable" about an internet killing spree that is egged on by the number of views the site gets . . . I was not going to touch my computer for a whole day. Not that anyone is dying, but the responses to this are through the roof - just like in the movie, which was 2 hours of my life I'll never get back (I know, I'm not the first person to say that either). Yikes!

But I did write about this here, http://www.stopscreamingimdriving.com/2008/06/why-cant-we-be-friends.html. And seriously, I think all of the reactions speak for much more than the original intent of the twitter or the post in mention.

If we simply let it be, than it would be. But we, as humans, seem incapable of letting it be and that is sad. That isn't why I blog and I doubt that's why Mrs. Fussypants or Sweetney blog either.

1:22 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

Oh, and I forgot to say Wow! Catherine, this is the best thing I have read in a long time.

Wish you didn't have to write it, but you did and you did it well lady! :)

1:23 AM  
Blogger Mojavi said...

ok I honestly think my head just exploded...

i don't read any of those others, but doesn't it all come back to if you can't say something nice....

but then who the hell am I kidding, I was called mean on my blog last week and it hurt, it stung, and I am not even popular LOL

1:26 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

some people will always believe that "snarky" and "mean" are synonyms. that snarky comments are, by their very nature, mean comments. those people should stay away from sweetney.

and yes, i get that you can't "stay away" from someone who's calling you out in a public forum, but frankly, i agree with those who've brought up that mrs. fussypants placed herself in the public forum, and that allows for criticism - whether that criticism is kindly phrased or not doesn't change the fact that it's allowed.

that said, i'm sad that the conflict ever came up. i'm sad that it's shaken people's faith in the community - a community that has always made me feel welcome, even if i am a mommy-in-waiting with no kids as of yet. i'm sad that we can't just let well enough alone.

and since i'm here, i'm also sad about the person who came to my blog to call me "psycho" and tell me that only desperate guys will ever want to be with me. snarky? or mean? you be the judge.

1:27 AM  
Anonymous Marilyn said...

I wrote a post about compassion the other day. I mentioned, offhandedly somewhat, this incident as an example but there was a greater picture at play (as this incident wasn't the impetus behind my post, but rather a story I saw on The Today Show). My issue (which sounds silly because it didn't involve me at all), was how the comment seemed to serve no greater purpose. Of course, in your excellent words HBM, it makes sense. :) But still. I guess the prose stung me a bit, and it didn't even concern me.

That said, I read and enjoyed Sweetney before this whole thing went down and I will continue to do so. I realize that her personality is just not lending towards "gentleness" in such matters. That's fine, for her. If it works for her, then so be it.

I would never want to censor anyone, or suggest that they should be censored. I would urge caution, which is what my post essentially was about, but in the end we all have the right to talk about whatever we want to, right?

2:07 AM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

After reading about this all day long, I now have the phrase "The drama goes on and ooooooon..." running on a loop in my head to the Celine Dion Titanic song.

Dammit.

2:10 AM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

I said it over on Sweetney's blog a bit more eloquently, but here's a re-hash:

It isn't the content of the comment that gets hackles raised in many cases; it's the, apparent, lack of motivation for the comment. It seemed to come out of the blue, as some random piece of criticism. Sweetney did respond to this, and even if her explanation is not also a justification I was satisfied with the explanation. It made sense of the act, which before had been off-putting in its sheer randomness and inexplicability.

The content seemed irrelevant to me; as did the A-list blah blah blah. In fact, what seemed important for the comment to be generated in the first place was that this other blogger did indeed have readers, and without an explanation for the comment it seemed as though the fact that she had readers was the only thing that accounted for the comment being made.

Bah. It's too late to do this properly. Let me end with "Yay Sweetney!" or similar "don't take anything to heart" words to that effect.

3:48 AM  
Blogger Avalon said...

Really? A bunch of sniveling babies. All of them. Equally.

Who are probably secretly overjoyed at all the extra Blog traffic.

8:40 AM  
Blogger Black Hockey Jesus said...

Mean people rock in this facade of glass niceness.

Your new reader: Black Fussy Jesus

8:51 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I read all the comments on Fussypants blog last night, and while I felt bad that she was upset, I was horrified by the reactions of her readers. I didn't know it was Sweetney. I was thinking, "Who is this monster? What kind of mean, horrible blogger could ever be elevated to A-list status if she's a bitch? We wouldn't let that happen because we only read people who we would want to be friends with!" And then I closed my laptop and played with my kids.

Now that I know it's Sweetney, I'm incredulous. I love her. I love her snarky self. She rawks. And wasn't she criticized a while back of being a wannabe Dooce and a wannabe Amalah and a wannabe Her Bad Mother?

We all make alliances. I get that. We can call them cliques. Whatever. But I still get the idea that if I were to show up at a BlogHer conference, I would find friendly, funny people who really care about their readers. The end.

8:58 AM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

I missed all this - I, admittedly, don't read the blogs you linked to and I don't Tweet, or Twit, or whatever...and I'm kind of glad right now that I don't.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous zchamu said...

So I guess my question now is, have Sweetney and Fussypants actually spoken directly, put the perceived harshness of the words, the hurt feelings on the table, and discussed the underlying issue - that is, the perception by Sweetney that Fussypants is a "copy" of several other popular blogs?

I guess that's none of my or anyone else's business - but it'd be nice to hear that these women actually could sort this out together. All warm fuzzy and community-like and all.

9:24 AM  
Blogger 'That Girl' said...

OMG! What a bunch of drama!

I'm fairly new to all of this, and I'm over here thinking "What's the big deal?"..maybe they won't be going to lunch at Mickey D's anytime soon, but other than that "What's the big deal?".. Maybe I just don't get it.

9:37 AM  
OpenID verybadcat said...

HBM- Absolutely. :)

Sweetney- thanks!

xoxo

9:50 AM  
Blogger TZT said...

And here I was all ready to write off the potential for real community in the momosphere. (I even crabbed about it on my blog.)

Then you just had to go and start what appears to be the most productive conversation I've seen about this mess. Cool. Thanks.

9:52 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

haha. i'm pretty sure i left a comment on both fussypants' and Sweetney's site...without knowing the drama was about the two of them..haha.

when you hear on one site that your friend is being called-out...you want to support her. but, then again, when you hear on another that your friend is being attacked...you want to support her.

anyway...i try to stay away from the drama as much as i can...although i was told off yesterday by a pretty well-known blogger's wife...apparently, i'm "some lady" who is really dumb and wears beanies that are nine years out of style. holy ouch. and that was all kinds of fun...

ps. am i supposed to (allowed to) get annoyed when someone else has the same blog name as i do?? and i had it first? just wondering...

9:59 AM  
Blogger BaltimoreGal said...

When I read Sweetney's comments I thought, "Damn, someone said it". Because when I first went to Fussypants it was because I thought it was Fussy's blog. As soon as I got there it was clearly not, but I did notice what Tracey was talking about. She is not the only one who notices. I can understand why FP was hurt- at the same time, if you want to be considered original I suggest you do your homework. You had better believe I made sure there were no other BaltimoreGals out there before I started using the name. We all owe each other that respect. I also believe Sweetney was thinking of Fussy and Bossy (who are probably hiding in a cave right now) when she was talking about this. So she was pointing out something being done to her friends. Was that lost in the translation? That caring? Just because she refuses to play the victim does not mean she is uncaring.

10:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

The most laughable part of all of this: that people are actually asking Tracey to insult them. Forget the drama; let's hear it for the comedy!

10:36 AM  
Blogger Pbear said...

Damn...when you are done with your soap box, can I use it? It will do wonders for my marriage. :)

Long-time lurker...too impressed to only lurk on this one. Gotta take my hat off to something that good.

By the way, your children are adoreable.

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sweetney was right from what I can tell and I will tell you my reasons why.

I don't visit either blog (Fussy or Fussypants) because FUSSYPANTS left a NOT NICE comment on someone else's blog that left a really bad taste in my mouth one time. I am smart enough to know the difference between the two blogs, but now the whole "Fussy" name feels funny. I REALLY don't like fake nice. I highly doubt the original Fussy would really gain anything from having me as a reader, but I think this does demonstrate a problem with a perceived "rip off". I have no idea if the two blogs are similar or not, all I need to know is the name.

Is it lame on my part? Definitely, but if some place that looks a lot like McD's sells me a hamburger that gives me Salmonella, I'm going to think twice about going to anything that resembles it.

Yes, I'm a wimp, I'm anonymous because this might be a NOT NICE comment.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This discussion, fuelled by the situation here described, highlights one of the many inherent paradoxes of this virtual world, and principally the concept of community.

The common African proverb, one that's passed into frequent usage, refers to a community raising a child, and one would be hard pressed to imagine any other but a solidified, close knit, physically close group of people assisting in this most awesome of responsibilities with balm that's most soothing and as here, traditionally defined: cooking for the mother, offering food, companionship, taking the child, looking on it as one's own, as part of a much larger whole; a vertitable pillar of support and comaraderie.

In our increasingly fragmented, Western society, we are drawn to communication in whatever guise it comes, reaching out over vast spaces which can be certainly soothing, but is ultimately flawed. Behind the gossamer veil of anonymity, however, discussions can degenerate, harshness unleashed, aspersions so easily cast, names appropriated. Ultimately, the sense of community, of a group of people having similar goals, visions, interests, breaks down too easily and in ways more easily checked and balanced by real, social interaction.

And it is in this sphere, as the Africans and other cultural groups would remind us, that real, social adhesion occurs, in these very streets where our children now seem so eerily absent, and the community pulse beats ever so faintly.

10:46 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

I can't get into any of this - just can't.

If you're a good writer, people will read. If you're not they won't.

That is all.

SO GLAD I took a pass on Twitter - blogging is narcissistic enough - tweeting just over the freaking top IMHO.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous lavandula said...

i have no idea what that twitter said.and i only read 3 mommy blogs.not any of the moms mentioned here.my question is how do fussy and fussypants feel about sweetneys twitter comments?and umm i'm guessing if i want to start my own blog i shouldn't use these 2choices of name-sweet knees or her bitchy mama(just kidding in case anyone thinks i'm being serious) well now i am going to read all those other comments

11:09 AM  
OpenID heartfull said...

I have been reading Fussy for a long time - it is one of my favorite blogs because she is an awesome writer.

I had never read Fussypants until a few minutes ago. I liked what I saw and will go back, not because I think her writing is of the same caliber but because I think I would like her as a person.

The idea that anyone would think that Fussypants is trying to gain something by having a similar name is ludicrous in this instance. The blogs are so dissimilar that there is no comparison.

It is quite obvious that Sweetney the blogger would dislike Fussypants the blog. In high school? Fussypants would have most certainly eaten in the cafeteria.

And so, I think the Twitter comment was mean spirited, a small way to get back at the cafeteria-eating, trend-following, average-skilled segment of the population.

But whatever. If you blog, you set yourself up for public scrutiny and must develop a thick skin. If being known for a sharp tongue doesn't bother Sweetney, then I think the rest of us just have to shrug it off and avoid her if it bothers us.

That said, I like Sweetney's writing, so I definitely won't be avoiding her.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Wow, what a lot of drama for a virtual world!

11:51 AM  
OpenID fairytalesandmargaritas said...

I agree with a lot that's been said here, on both sides. I guess it all just has me uneasy though. When I first started blogging I had only read a handful of my friend's blogs. I didn't know about the "community". I never in a million years thought I should research my name or anything. I started my blog and slowly reached out to others. Well, lo and behold there are others out there that have a _____ and Margaritas blog name. I've gone to some and commented saying, "Great minds think alike." but, I wonder if people think I copied? One of them is much more popular than I am and I wonder if she's upset or if one day someone (a third party no less) is going to humiliate me in front of a bunch of people and call me out? What do I do? Should I change my name now? Should I search high and low to make sure I'm not stepping on anyone's toes? Some of us are really innocent little bloggers that don't know a whole lot about this. But, I do know that if I was called out publicly in front of hundreds of people I'd be upset and embarassed and feel the need to explain myself. I'd just feel shitty. And I'm sad that this happened to someone else.

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Vicki said...

Ok, I'm gonna be the bouncer here. Everyone just leave it alone. Its like that stink in the air when someone farts. If no one says anything eventually it all goes away and no one gets embarassed.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Angela said...

So, I'm pretty out of the loop, here. I didn't see the original Twitter post, and with the exception of Tracey, I don't think I follow any of the other people involved on Twitter. So this is the first time I'm reading all of the details about what happened.

Since I'd be talking out of my ass if I said anything about any of that, I won't. But I will say this: Tracey is one of the best friends I have ever had. She was the first person I called this very morning when something went horribly awry in my life and I needed someone to listen to me freak out and remind me that I'm not alone. I've been friends with Mean Girls. (Tracey and I have been friends with some of the same Mean Girls, in fact.) I know how to spot a Mean Girl. I know that Mean Girls do not provide the kind of loving, unwavering, sisterly support that Tracey has for me. Not only is that assessment of her (by virtual strangers, no less) upsetting, it's false and ridiculous.

So: my dear, close, loyal, GOOD friend who is a good person said something that hurt someone's feelings. Fine. I'm not denying that person's feelings were hurt. It can be true that a person says something that hurts someone's feelings while simultaneously being true that she isn't a bad person or a big meanypants or whatever. If someone has something to say about what was SAID, they should say that. If someone has something to say about who she IS, they should probably research it a little better before saying something that's patently false and stupid.

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Elaine said...

I would just like to say, Amen. You say things I think (sometimes) but generally more eloquently than I ever could. Thanks for helping focus on the issue, and for your comments.

12:45 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

The degree to which people have taken two sentences as a license to dehumanize me is honestly blowing my fucking mind. These people who would, of course, in the same breath decry my "meanness" apparently don't think I'm an actual real live human being or something. My feelings and my tears, it seems, just don't count.

Oh hi internet, I said some critical shit. I own that. But I said TWO SENTENCES. *TWO FUCKING SENTENCES.* Now reading about 500 statements about what a fucking evil whore bitch I am, written by people who've never read my blog and clearly haven't the faintest idea who I actually am AT ALL, is not just upsetting -- it's getting genuinely frightening at this point. I have never, ever seen a lynch mob of this sort on the web, and I hope never to again.

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see that this nonsense goes on in other places besides my kids' PTO. And I thought I was missing something by not being a blogger. Now I know I'd just be missing the same old crap that happens in real life (sorry, IRL).

About blogger names, it's my understanding (and I could be wrong...someone feel free to shed some light)that if you don't copyright them (or whatever it is you do...did I read about someone buying a name?), then I don't think you can really claim them as your own. I'm not a copyright lawyer, but I do have experience with it, and while the U.S. Copyright office says something to the effect that whatever you do is basically copyrighted, it's best to register it officially because otherwise it'd never hold up in court.

And for what it's worth, I plagiarize all of you (okay, really just your writing styles, which are quickly becoming identical) when I send e-mails to my friends and they all think I'm hysterical. I am different and funny and creative because they don't read blogs so they have no idea that I'm emulating all of you. I do read some blogs, I love the few that I read, and I'm glad you all write them because they're really great. I just don't have time or interest in writing my own.

1:15 PM  
OpenID lilmomthatcould.com said...

In life a little acid rain will fall on our heads- carry a steel umbrella.
This is a weird world- I can say to you "Hi you suck" and we will have a good laugh because you know I am a total bitch and you love me. I can write "Hi you suck" and peeps will be offended. Next time I say meet up mono-e-mono and duke it out. Blogher cage match!
I like Fussypants and through this uproar I met alot of other bloggers including Sweetney- So some good has come out-well for me.

1:23 PM  
Blogger The Other Laura said...

Catherine, It's all I could do to stop myself from shouting "Hell, yeah!" as I read this...

You so often manage to articulate things that leave me sort of stammering. Thanks.

1:31 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

99.99% of the time I totally agree with HBM. This is the first post that I have read from HBM that I was disappointed to find here.

HBM you did exactly what fussypants friends did. You stuck up for your friend Sweetney - while it was not the only goal of your post it was woven throughout your post (DAMN HBM YOU CAN WRITE)

Sweetney - i dont know you, I dont read your blog - I did read a few of your posts today. You were wrong. What you did was mean and it was an attack on fussypants - you could have got your point across in a post or twitter without naming names - but you didnt.No one says your tears dont count - they count just as much as the tears you caused fussypants.

I found the fact you feel the need to mention that you are an MA Phd major quite patronizing.. of course you can separate the self and the blog.. because you are educated!! BIG Fu^&en deal. I know a ton of people with PHd's while many are brilliant just as many have to be some of the dumbest people i know.

I do blog - I always comment anonymously - I have few readers.. I am still honing my writing skills and I fear the rejection from the blogging community.. I see the cliques from anonymous land and I want nothing to do with it.

1:57 PM  
Anonymous fidget said...

i'm so glad that ive been a shitty blog friend and been totally lax in poking my head out of my cave. Sometimes it's nice here in my bubble.. even with a baby screaming at me 22 hours a day

2:01 PM  
Blogger Sybil Vane said...

No one is decrying you as an evil bitch whore in this space. That's not to say that people aren't, but here at least, there are a range of perspectives, none of which is excessive.

People are being shitty to you, for sure. It sucks. It's not your fault that people are being so shitty and excessive. But you are a factor in their response, I think. Your blog response invokes your being disempowered in terms of high school hierarchies. It is, in other words, a tacit response to the fact that many of the shouts against you involve discussions of popularity.And the defense it creates is, i said what i mean then, i got shit; i say what i mean now, i get shit. Which is fine enough, except that one has almost nothing in common with the other and the people decrying you in this situation don't perceive you as an outsider. Thy perceive you as that chick in the cafeteria.

And to that, let me say: you ask what are the criteria for this imagined hierarchy people want to perceive you in? It's not that hard, really. You have been featured at major events for the community, you have been profiled by other media sources, and you have public relationships with other "famous" bloggers. It's not a mystery. It's laudable for you to not give a shit about these dynamics, which I believe you don't, but they are absolutely undeniable. When people are emailing you requesting that you insult them, I think the issue is pretty much resolved.

Then there is this questions of whether it was a personal attack. You didn't intend it to be, fine. YOu analogize it to critiquing a film or other piece of art. Except that we all know that personal blogs are successful in proportion to their establishing a distinct personality. I am hard-pressed to believe a critique of a personal blogs output is not a critique of the personality. Further, in both your and Catherine's defense of your critique, your own personality is invoked: you are a person who tells it like it is, is honest and unflinching. In other words, evaluations of your output need to be contextualized with respect to the fact that this is who you are. And yet your critique of others' output is impersonal? It's a bit contradictory, no?

All that is, btw, a different matter than the fact that people are being shitty to you, which is a shame.

2:05 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anon - I'm sorry that you were disappointed. I did defend Sweetney - I wasn't trying to hide it, it's just that it wasn't the larger point of my post. I defended her because regardless of what anyone thinks about what she said, she's a lot more than those 140 characters and that needed to be said. That, and I really do believe that all the sweetney-bashing was not only hypocritical (people calling her a bitch and a douche for being mean - the discussion was descending into a hate-spiral) but also counter-productive. There are real issues at stake here - what we say and how we say it, who we are and whether we should or should not be territorial about who we are - that have gotten lost in the frenzy of bitch-slapping.

Anyone who thinks that Sweetney was mean is free to say so - but I don't see why there needs to be an imperative that the whole community take that line or restrict their discussion to those terms. And I don't see why I should be identified as being narrowly clique-oriented for not joining in on the bitch-slapping. Sweetney (Tracey) is my friend and a human being, and my standing up and pointing that out does not mean that I'm denying Fussypants her pain, or that I'm sticking up for my 'clique', or that I'm picking a 'side' It means that I'm asking us all to rise above the anger and get civil already, and turn these energies to better discursive use.

2:11 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

I think everyone just needs to give it a rest already. Pass out the Midol at BlogHer and leave it between the 2 forces that be.

Why would we (anyone) want to prepetuate this any longer (and here I am STILL reading the conversation, so I am just as much to blame as anyone) and hurt MORE feelings. These women are JUST LIKE US. They are like YOU and they are like ME.

I am ashamed that more hurt is happening. We should all be ashamed.

Still, I do applaud you HBM, for putting it all so well.

2:13 PM  
Blogger ByJane said...

Maybe someone said this before (I don't have time to read through all the comments), but my two cents are:
(1) community means different things to different people. Your definition may be a "textbook" one but that textbook is referencing a particular philosopy.
(2) people come into these discussions with varying abilities to "argue the points." It requires a specific kind of mind schooled in critical thinking to effectively do so. It's hard to understand that most people don't see the issues that rationally. And god knows, contemporary "political debate" encourages insisting on either a pro or a con position with no room for middleground. So when some people get upset, all they can do is blast. Tough for us; tougher for them because it's not a particularly effective way of communicating.
(3) I do agree with whoever said it was a gender issue. Girls on the playground fight their battles in different ways than boys. That continues to some extent no matter how Grown Up we are.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HBM - No apologies necessary it was bound to happen just makes you more human to me :) and you are 100% right bigger issues exist.
The cliques exist, here on HBM's site we have so and so and so and commenting on Fussypants site we have so and so and so - no one is wining but what must be remembered is someone was hurt in a space she probably felt pretty safe - and no one deserves to be called names like the ones that Sweetney has been called and there are a ton of ways that anger/hurt can be expressed besides calling people a douche or a bitch but not everyone is so articulate.

2:19 PM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

I have nothing to say that hasn't already been said in your post or the above comments. Can I just say, though, that OMG you have a cohesive thought process for a mother of a newborn! I can barely remember everyday words, and my kid is 8 months.

In awe.

2:40 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

ByJane - I think that ALL community is hard, no matter how you define it. Family? Hard. Neighborhood? Hard. Nation? Hard. Commune/Ashram/Marxist Utopia? HARD HARD HARD. Negotiating social life is always challenging, always has been. But that is, in part, what makes it rewarding. We INVEST in it, with our energies and our take all sorts of knocks but we deal with it because of the reward.

That's all I'm saying here - there's no community I've ever seen or heard of that didn't deal with struggles and conflict within, so any expectation here that OUR community should never witness internal struggle or conflict or incidences of meanness or whatever is disingenuous. That there was a conflict doesn't mean that the mamasphere is doomed. It means that we're robust and diverse and pissy. Which is good, believe it or not. ;)

2:40 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

nomotherearth - yeah, I was drunk when I wrote that ;)

2:42 PM  
Blogger To Think is to Create said...

You all have such a great discussion going here, really honest and mostly civil. I'm impressed. Sorry for this super long comment...

A few things...

First, I would not have thought much about Sweetney's comments until the "parasitic" tweet came through. The others, to me, seemed normal snarky Sweetney that I love to read because of said snarkiness. That one crossed the line, passing just "opinion, and into mud slinging, imo.

Second, to debate the actual comments, I totally disagree that there are similarities, other than "fussy" being part of the name. It was frustrating to me that Fussypants was compared to Bossy because of her photoshopping, when many MANY have done that before even Bossy came along. Fussypants was also compared to Amalah's Smackdown, which I have loved forever and ever amen, but said comparison totally perplexed me. I don't know if this was the implication, but I don't agree that only one person can talk about fashion or beauty in a funny way or else be considered copying. Then there was the comparison to Dooce, which is weird and maybe I misunderstood and Sweetney was referencing her own comparisons to Dooce by others in the past, but I can't be sure. At any rate, Dooce didn't invent sarcasm.

I have heard from other bloggers prior to this whole thing, that they believed Fussypants copied Bossy, but I just can't get on board. It feels like they are picking on someone just because they don't like them as a person (because she's not snarky or because she talks about her faith or because she's just not like them), which is their right, but I just disagree. Even in Fussypants' post responding she says that she adored Sweetney. Let's not discuss the Fussypants commenters, because they made me cringe.

Also, I actually am REALLY glad that Sweetney came on here saying she's not a Mean Girl. When I saw the parasitic thing, it rang mean girl-ish only b/c she's "popular". I know she doesn't see herself that way, but she is nonetheless. I was disappointed in the tweet, but I'm really happy for this post and her response.

For me, the only reason the whole A-list stuff even came to mind was not because of traffic or elite-type attitudes, but because it sometimes feels like bigger bloggers assume EVERYONE must know who the big bloggers are. I haven't ever read Fussy or heard of her. Bossy is very new to me. I have no idea if I'm copying anyone, because I'm just being me, and no I did not do a thorough search and background check and sniff test before naming my blog. I just picked a name and ran. I think Sweetney's point was that the "copying" was intentional, hence the parasitic comment, but all it takes is reading a few Fussypants posts to see that any copying (which I don't think is there) is unintentional. I know our opinions differ. No big deal.

Finally, I know everyone is saying how this "worries" them, and I don't know how I feel about blogging anymore blah blah blah, but I don't feel that way. I know we all would like to avoid drama, but I come from a family that talks/fights/yells it out and we are all closer afterwards. Pretending like things aren't going on is anything but helpful. As much as I don't agree with the call out being public, with no communication to the actual person you are calling out, I do think this all can benefit us if we want it to. I hope that people can see that talking about stuff isn't bad, and that in the future people from both sides can avoid taking things so low. Neither side deserves it.

I hope you meet some of you at Blogher!

3:00 PM  
Blogger To Think is to Create said...

Oh gawd, my comment looks even longer once I hit publish! Now I'm the girl who can't shut up...

I forgot to say that I hadn't heard of you until Sweetney linked you at the Johnson & Johnson thing saying "Nether Home" on video and I knew I'd found a kindred spirit. Smart girls rock.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yawn. Get over yourselves.

3:29 PM  
Blogger Monkey McWearingChaps said...

Hilarious.

Someone who runs a website that basically repackages information found on other celebrity blogs

and

Rolls out another tired "mom reviews" website (Cool Mom Picks, Sundry Buzz, Mightywhatever)

called another blogger derivative.

Fuck I'm happy I have a real job.

3:35 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda said...

The thing about all of this that is interesting to me, as just a stay-at-home mom reader of blogs, is that it really hit home to me from all the comments that these bloggers are in business. Most of the blogs I read claim they originated out of a desire to chronicle their childrens’ lives, a need to overcome the isolation of depression or a pull to belong to a community. And, although that seems to have once been the case, there is a lot of talk of copyright infringement, goodwill, supporting families, etc. that made me realize, “Of course, these people are self-publishing writers, with writer conventions, who respond to readers in order to foster their web presence and who have contests to keep them coming back and to attract advertisers.” I don’t really care if my favourite authors are jerks in their personal lives — most of them are, but I think the idea of a supportive blogging community is part of the fallacy I’m being sold as a reader and maybe it’s time to call a spade a spade and let it go.

4:06 PM  
Anonymous Rhonda said...

When I mentioned my favourite authors being jerks in their real life, I was talking about Anais Nin, Henry Miller, etc. -- not any blogging writers! Oops -- see, it's so easy to do.

4:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Sweetney's tweets and her subsequent posts (not Tracey herself mind you, but her written words) are petty and unnecessary. I have been disillusioned with her lack of insight and defensiveness for sometime...this is not the first occurrence. I will not read her any more. (For the record, I do not read Fussypants either).

5:12 PM  
Blogger sweetney said...

in case you missed it:

Fussypants and Sweetney have kissed and made up. Everyone please resume life as usual. Thanks.

and have a good holiday.

6:36 PM  

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